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Outgoing mayor talks about tenure, new leadership

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HENDERSON (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - With a new leader coming on board, Henderson Mayor Buzz Fullen is looking back on his tenure and discussing what he believes the mayor-elect will bring to the table.

Pat Brack narrowly defeated Art Rousseau for the job Tuesday night by just 13 votes, according to complete but unofficial results.

"We had two real good candidates running, either of which would have been good for the city," Fullen, who did not seek another term, said.

The transition of mayors will begin Nov. 19. Fullen said Ms. Brack will be sworn in that day, and the city will then start the process of switching everything over and applying the new mayor to ongoing duties and assignments.

He said he has mixed feelings about stepping down, but had other things he wanted to do and felt like it was the right time.

In 2004, he said he came in with a good, strong city council, and everyone worked to attack key issues, such as rejuvenation of streets, setting the park program in place to revitalize city parks and building a new civic center. A new downtown fire station also was built under his watch.

But the largest project involved the parks.

At Fair and Yates parks, major renovations included new park equipment and walking trails.

Fullen said those projects have yielded benefits for residents, and it's gratifying to know the city was able to accomplish that.

Henderson now ist working on Lake Forest Park near the civic center, which is being turned into an arboretum-type park.

When he leaves office, Fullen said he will miss working with the employees.
"We had a very good relationship," he said. "I am employee-based, (and) we have a very good staff. We all get along. … We've accomplished a lot of things. We just all work together very well (so) I will miss coordination efforts."

He's also enjoyed working with Henderson residents.

"Most of the people, I trust them and they trust me. We did have a relationship that maybe was a bit uncommon. As a hometown boy, I was able to communicate well (with them)," Fullen said.

"I will miss decisions to help the city to run, but I have no regrets other than the fact that it was maybe time for me to go out while I'm still on top. I will still continue to work with anyone if they have questions."

He also will remain on three local boards — the downtown Main Street board, Keep Henderson Beautiful and the Henderson Housing Authority board — and put efforts into his small businesses.

But the city will be in good hands because Ms. Brack has been in Henderson awhile serving on the city council, so she knows what she's doing and is a good community relations person for Henderson, Fullen said.

Ms. Brack, whose husband worked with Verizon Telephone Company, moved to Henderson from Oklahoma and always has been a community leader, he said, adding that she's been active in civic organizations such as the Lions Club.

He said the mayor-elect now has good plans to do additional work at city parks and eventually connect the city through walking trails. She'll also take over responsibility with the Northeast Texas Air Care and East Texas Council of Governments.

"She is 100 percent retired and will devote her entire day to the city and do this," Fullen said. "She sees the need to do some things in the city such as bringing in new housing, more businesses … and expanding industrial park areas … I think (residents) can really depend on her to take care of the city's financial need."

Henderson City Manager Mike Barrow agreed, saying, "Pat's been here for a little while … She knows what all issues the city's involved in and the goals of the council. The mayor certainly provided some leadership over the last several years, and I'm sure she'll fill that nicely."
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